Christian Education

Grant remembers his dedication to integrating academic and Christian excellence

Dr. Daniel R. Grant, President Emeritus of Ouachita Baptist University, died Wednesday, May 25. He was 98 years old.

Grant was Ouachita’s 12th president and held the position longer than anyone in the university’s history except Dr. J. W. Conger, founding president. Grant’s service at Ouachita has been distinguished by his dedication to building a thriving and financially stable learning community in the liberal arts tradition, based on a commitment to rigorous academics and Christian excellence.

During his 18-year tenure, the percentage of Ouachita faculty members with doctorates reached 50% for the first time, the university’s annual Christian week was launched, and the Ouachita endowment increased by $10 million. Grant led major campus expansion projects in the construction of Lile Hall, Riley-Hickingbotham Library, Mabee Fine Arts Center, McClellan Hall, Evans Student Center, Sturgis Physical Education Center, and Starlight Apartments .

Dr. Ben R. Sells, President of Ouachita since 2016, said, “Dr. Grant graciously welcomed me when I took on this role and has supported me ever since. Each president is a steward for a season, and he has been exemplary in the direction and conduct of Ouachita, a place he loves dearly.

Dr. Grant has been a confidant and friend for many years. His love and devotion to Ouachita is unmatched,” said Dr. Rex M. Horne, 15e President. “His wisdom, kindness and example live on with all who knew this remarkable man.”

Born August 18, 1923, in Little Rock, Ark., Grant was the son of Ouachita’s eighth president, Dr. James R. Grant, and his wife Grace Sowers Grant. He was a 1945 summa cum laude graduated from Ouachita, where he met Betty Jo Oliver; the two were married in 1947. Grant went on to earn a master of arts from the University of Alabama and a doctorate. in political science from Northwestern University.

Prior to being named president of Ouachita, Grant taught political science for 21 years at Vanderbilt University, where he also served as founding director of the Center for Urban and Regional Development. As a graduate student and professor, he became interested in the impact of politics and policies on local government.

Grant served on the executive board of the Southern Political Science Association and was recognized as an expert in merging city and county government structures and departments. He taught municipal government and planning at Thammasat University for a year in Bangkok, Thailand, and was a consultant to the city of Bangkok. After returning to Vanderbilt, Grant co-designed the plan that united municipal and county offices into a metropolitan system of government for the city of Nashville, Tenn.

He has authored and co-authored several books and articles based on his knowledge of the field, including “Metropolitan Surveys: A Digest,” “The States and the Metropolis,” and a widely used academic textbook titled “State and Local Government in America.” ”

Grant has also written extensively on topics related to Christian citizenship, including his book “The Christian and Politics”, articles published in “The Baptist Student” magazine, and 15 years of weekly “One Layman’s Opinion” columns that he wrote for Arkansas Baptist Magazine.

Recognized as a Baptist lay leader long before he was named president of Ouachita, Grant was a popular faith-based speaker who held numerous leadership positions in national, regional, and local businesses and organizations.

Grant’s tenure at Ouachita began in 1970.

“It was my very good fortune to have been hired by Dan Grant in 1976, welcomed by him and Betty Jo into the Ouachita community, and continually supported and encouraged by him over the decades that followed,” said Dr Hal Bass. , Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Ouachita.He was a paragon who exemplified the academic and Christian excellence he proclaimed.

“One of Dan’s majors in political science was public administration, and he proved to be an extraordinarily effective college president,” Bass recalls. He combined visionary leadership with managerial skills. Dan was an attentive listener who weighed and balanced competing perspectives and prioritized deliberation and consensus in decision-making. He understood that policies were rarely self-executing and he was attentive to the challenges of implementation.

A tireless advocate for education and global missions, Grant expanded Ouachita’s international focus. Under his leadership, study abroad programs were established in China and Japan, a foreign language academic requirement was adopted, and students were given the opportunity to participate in missionary projects in Africa and South America. During his tenure, Ouachita consistently ranked among the top five colleges in the nation for producing Southern Baptist missionaries, and a missionary-in-residence program was initiated. The Daniel and Betty Jo Grant Center for International Education in Ouachita was named in Grant’s honor upon her retirement in 1988, in recognition of her initiatives to “bring the world to Ouachita and take Ouachita out into the world”.

In retirement, he helped establish and then volunteered to lead the Global Education Consortium, which encouraged increased global participation and resulted in several hundred exchange agreements in some of the world’s most restrictions of the world. Guided by Grant, its membership grew to include 48 Baptist colleges and universities.

Grant’s attention to administrative planning and detail was balanced and informed by his genuine interest in others. Bryan McKinney, dean of the Hickingbotham School of Business and general counsel at Ouachita, was a high school student when he met Grant. McKinney had to select an influential Arkansan to interview for a class assignment, and he chose President Ouachita.

On the day of the interview, McKinney said, “I drove from North Little Rock to campus and sat in his office, and he gave me all the time in the world. I remember being aware that he was an important person with a number of more pressing responsibilities, but he treated this meeting with me as if it was the most important thing on his schedule that day.

As McKinney’s professional career progressed at Ouachita, he received personal notes of encouragement from Grant. “Integrating faith and higher education has always been Dr. Grant’s passion,” he said, “and he continued to encourage people to do so long after his retirement.”

Grant continued to lead by example in his retirement, accepting an appointment by the then Governor. Mike Huckabee to serve on the Arkansas Division of Higher Education Coordinating Council.

If there was ever a ‘life well lived’ it was the life of Dr. Grant,” said Huckabee, an Ouachita alumnus. “I probably wouldn’t have been able to go to college if he hadn’t given me an Ouachita presidential scholarship. His investment in me was deep, not only because of the scholarship, but also because of his Christian political acumen and his brilliant leadership of Ouachita.

When Huckabee asked Grant to serve, “We had never had anyone from any of the independent schools in the state on the board — only public schools,” Huckabee said. “He told me he didn’t need a job. I said to him, ‘Sir, you certainly don’t need the job, but the job needs YOU!’ He reluctantly agreed and served with distinction. The presidents of Harding, John Brown, Hendrix, Lyon and others have thanked me profusely for appointing him to the board. They trusted him and loved him. How could we not? »

Grant is survived by his children Carolyn Grant Walton, Shirley Grant Hardin and Daniel Ross Grant, Jr.; five grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Betty Jo Oliver Grant, as well as his two brothers and two sisters.

A celebration of Grant’s life will be held Saturday, July 23 at 10:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Arkadelphia, 623 Pine Street, where Grant served as a deacon, sang in the choir, chaired several committees and served volunteer in arms. Around the Arkadelphia Ministry. The service will be led by Horne and the Reverend Jimmy Darby, pastor of FBC. Memorial donations can be made to the Grant Center for International Education in Ouachita at or to Arms Around Arkadelphia through the First Baptist Church of Arkadelphia (116 North 7th Street, 71923).